Chennai: Continuing her diatribe against the Congress-led UPA government, AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today accused it of failing to modernise the Indian armed forces and turning the Defence sector a ‘defenceless’ one.
Virtually targeting Defence Minister A K Antony and the government in entirety, Jayalalithaa said the Centre’s alleged inaction to modernise the defence sector had resulted in issues including dwindling strength of naval fleet and manpower.
Referring to two submarine accidents that claimed about 20 lives, Jayalalithaa said “Naval Chief Admiral D K Joshi resigned owning moral responsibility for these mishaps. But I wonder why those responsible for this are still clinging to power”, she said but did not mention Antony’s name.
She said despite CAG’s observation in 2009 no anti-fire equipment were purchased for navy submarines which had resulted in fatal fire accidents in INS Sindhurakshak and INS Sindhuratna.
The Navy and Air Force were suffering from depleted fleet strength while army was even facing manpower shortage, she said at an election rally at suburban Meenambakkam.
“Congress-led Central government has made the Defence department defenceless. The Defence Department has been ignored,” she said and reminded people that the Lok Sabha polls was an opportunity for them to rewrite their destiny.
The coming elections are also an opportunity to “throw out” UPA government and also teach a lesson to DMK, which had supported the Government at the Centre, she said.
Jayalalithaa, during her about an hour long address to a well-attended gathering, focused her attention on the Centre ignoring the sentiments of Tamils on various issues including demand for boycotting CHOGM, retrieval of Katchatheevu island, among others.
“Do you need such a government? I am confident that you will remove this government and ensure that AIADMK would have a greater role in the next government at the Centre to fulfill aspirations of people of Tamil Nadu”, she said.
On her second day into the campaign trail, Jayalalithaa squarely blamed the UPA government for the “untold miseries” faced by people including price-rise, inflation, unemployment, stagnation in agricultural sector and external threats.
“Above all, there is rampant corruption. Even the important Defence department is not spared. I haven’t seen a worse government,” she said in her address from the stage which was designed like Parliament, in line with the AIADMK chief’s intention of having a greater say in the next government by being an integral part of it.
She likened the UPA government to the colonial British rulers and said much as people then yearned for freedom from the British, people of India now wanted to put an end to the Congress government.
The ‘anti-people’ Congress government was assisted by its former ally DMK even a few months back and her party’s main rival had brought ‘disrepute’ to Tamil Nadu by involving in the ‘Himalayan’ 2G spectrum allocation scam, Jayalalithaa said,urging people to show the door to both the parties.
“This is not an ordinary election but a liberating one; to liberate yourself from external threats, the corrupt empire and to alleviate all your miseries,” she said.
She appealed to the electorate to give her a stronger mandate than the one given in 2011 Assembly polls that helped her trump DMK and repeatedly asked the crowd if they will do this to which the crowd replied in the affirmative.
Harping on the emotional Sri Lankan Tamils issue, Jayalalithaa said despite the state Assembly adopting a series of resolutions including India seeking a referendum for separate Eelam (Tamil homeland) and asking New Delhi to stop treating Sri Lanka as a friendly nation, Centre had responded to none of the demands.
The Centre had also failed to rein in the island nation on attacks on Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan navy, she said, adding, due to her consistent efforts, that country was on the one hand releasing arrested Tamil Nadu fishermen and at the same time arresting them.
To change this scenario,her hands have to be ‘strengthened’ to ensure a firm say in Centre’s policies in the next government, she said.
The Chief Minister also slammed the Centre for submitting in court that Katchatheevu, an islet ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974 under an agreement, did not belong to the country.
She criticised UPA for its ‘flawed economic policies’ and reiterated her party’s commitment to work towards a change in this regard including reviewing the existing price fixation mechanism for petroleum products.
Growing fiscal deficit, depreciation of Indian rupee and dip in exports had left the economy ‘shattered,’ she added.
The Centre was interfering in state rights on issues including policing, by way of the National Counter Terrorism Centre, trying to implement GST and introducing FDI in retail trade, she said.
She also recalled her government’s various pro people initiatives in various sectors and pointed out that among others, the free mixer-grinder-fans scheme and supply of free rice had benefited lakhs of people.
She expressed confidence that the voters will give her a mandate to implement her party’s poll plank of ‘Peace, Progress and Prosperity.’